This is a book cover I created for Nadeem Aslam, a prize-winning British Pakistani novelist, for his new novel, 'The Blind Man's Garden'.
October 2001. Following the terrorist attacks in America the previous month, Western armies have invaded Afghanistan. The Blind Man’s Garden revolves around Gio and his foster-brother Mikal, who leave their home in Pakistan to go to war.
Within hours of entering the rugged Afghan landscape, Gio is killed in battle. Mikal—named after the warrior angel—emerges from the carnage and begins his dangerous search for Gio, unaware that he has died. But his deepest wish is to return home—to the young woman he loves and who loves him, Gio’s wife. An Odyssean voyage he soon undertakes.
She waits for him in the blind man’s garden, feeling with a powerful and resilient love that he is still alive. She tends to the eyes of the aged blind man, whose own mind is tormented by the mistakes he had made during the course of his life in the name of ‘Islam’ and nationhood. He mourns his beautiful wife whom he had punished for painting living things against Allah’s wishes, and he grieves over the school he had founded that has now been usurped by Pakistan’s sinister spy agency, the ISI.
After the long separation the two young lovers unite briefly, a few days’ idyll haunted by the ruins of war and the peacetime human tragedies. In the book’s final section—a piece of sustained vision-like storytelling—Mikal must return to Waziristan and face his destiny. Moving through Al-Qaeda’s hideouts in Waziristan and the military prisons set up by Americans, The Blind Man’s Garden is an epic that takes in horses erupting from the ground during the Indian Mutiny and a Beslan-like school siege, while simultaneously celebrating the healing powers of nature, and of art, music and literature.
I made the image using watercolour and coloured Derwent Pencils, with some Photoshopping at the end.
The image went through several rounds of edits, and I ended up having to completely redesign it. Scroll down to see the process...
I drew the bees separately and photoshopped them onto the lemons:
Rough sketch of the bees:
ORIGINAL VERSION (before redesign):